|As the first president of the S.D. Stockgrowers from eastern South Dakota, Walter Bones worked to broaden the organization statewide instead of just having west-river membership. He initiated having annual statewide area meetings, which continue to this day, and was the first to have an annual meeting East River. Bones was instrumental in founding the S.D. Beef Council and getting the S.D. Stockgrowers, CowBelles, Livestock Feeders, and Auction Markets working together in one organization. He was invited to participate in a special White House conference on nutrition and health, was invited to an International Harvester “Think Tank” forum of farm leaders. He was also invited on the prestigious “Swift Trip” to view the meat industry from market to consumer.
Walter's father homesteaded northeast of Parker in 1879 and was the founder of the Bones Hereford Ranch Inc., which is one of the best-known and largest farms in South Dakota. When Walter took over management following his naval and college years, there were about 3000 acres. The ranch now operates close to 7000 acres.
In the late 1950’s Walter started Bones Elevator Co. Today it can dry 1500 bushels of grain in an hour, and has modern rolling, mixing, and grinding equipment. Hereford cattle have played an important part in Bones Hereford Ranch ever since Walter’s father bought the first ones in 1927. He became a member of the American Society of Animal Production in the early 1950’s and as a result, the breeding program was changed before disaster struck the herd. Bones Hereford Ranch became the largest dwarf-free herd in the country. Realizing the importance of progeny testing as early as 1950, Walter was instrumental in serving on a committee, which formulated the Total Performance Records (TPR) program for the American Hereford Association and was a charter member of the S.D. Livestock Production Records Association. He was also a member of the S.D. Livestock Improvement Foundation.
Bones Hereford Ranch has been at or near the top of the American Hereford Association’s listing of outstanding TPR cows every year since it published such information. Cattle have been sold to 31 states and 4 foreign countries through annual sales and by private treaty, including shipment of 220 head to Hungary in 1972 (the first shipment of beef cattle to go behind the Iron Curtain), 337 head in 1973, and 850 head in 1974. Bones also sold 750 head to Chile in 1980.
Walter served as S.D. State Representative from 1974-1980 and S.D. State Senator from 1980-1985. He has also served as Vice President and President of the S.D. Hereford Association in the 1960’s, S.D. Stockgrowers Association from 1969-1971, and of the TriState Hereford Association in the 1950’s.
Bones was also a member of the S.D. Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen’s Association, American Hereford Association, S.D. Livestock Production Records, S.D. Livestock Improvement Association, and director of the S.D. Corngrowers Association. He was award the S.D. Beef Council Award for Outstanding Industry Support in 1973 and the S.D. Hereford Association Honoree in 1985.
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